Skip to comments.The Heir to FDR (Newt Gingrich)
Posted on 06/09/2004 6:36:33 AM PDT by Lando Lincoln
There are significant lessons to be learned from studying President Ronald Reagan and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt that would help our generation meet the challenges of our times.
I combine Reagan and FDR because they were the two most effective presidents of the 20th century. Reagan was an FDR Democrat for much of his life. As late as 1948, he cut commercials for President Truman and senatorial candidate Hubert Humphrey (then the leading anti-communist liberal in Minnesota). We live in a world that would have been dramatically different without them.
In both domestic policy and foreign policy, it is impossible to explain the America of 2004 without looking at FDR's leadership in creating the New Deal domestically, the response to the Nazi-Fascist-imperial Japanese challenge, and the creation of a coherent Democratic Party majority that lasted from 1930 to 1994 (something no one could have predicted in 1930).
Similarly, in both domestic and foreign policy, no one can explain the changes from FDR's world to the present without studying Reagan. It was his long campaign (beginning in 1947) that ended the Soviet empire (see Peter Schweizer's Reagan's War for detailed proof of this assertion). It was his policies that shifted American domestic government and politics back toward personal responsibility, economic freedom, entrepreneurship and lower tax rates. From welfare reform to the large tax cuts of President George W. Bush to the growing debate over Social Security private accounts, we now live in the world Reagan defined.
In foreign policy, the accession of Poland and other Eastern European countries to both the European Union and NATO is vivid proof that Reagan's strategy of defeating rather than accommodating the Soviet Union was a spectacular success.
The Republican House and Senate majorities of today literally stand on Reagan's shoulders in both votes (the switch of the Reagan Democrats to Republican) and in philosophy.
There is a further reason for studying both men. Understanding Reagan's political strength is not possible without understanding how much of his patterns and techniques grew out of FDR.
Three anecdotes illustrate the attitudes and habits Reagan and FDR would have us learn:
If we can combine the persistence, optimism, technological curiosity and courage of FDR and Reagan we will meet the challenges of our generation without any doubt.
It will sometimes be difficult, but we will prevail if we allow ourselves to stand on their shoulders.
Newt Gingrich is a senior fellow at AEI.
FDR was a socialist liar who maneuvered us into a war we had no business being involved in. Reagan was infinitely better than FDR.
"FDR was a socialist liar who maneuvered us into a war we had no business being involved in. Reagan was infinitely better than FDR."
How do you figure? Are you going to bring out the c-o-n-spiracy theory that "FDR Knew" about Pearl Harbor?
ssplain this to me, mang.
I'm a little surprised that Newt, who championed the war against entitlements (the lasting legacy of FDR) would put FDR and Reagan in the same light. This is far more respectful to FDR then to Reagan.
Not necessary. History has proven that there were many communist in FDR's administration, including his wife, that he armed Russia and was a friend of "Uncle Joe". He did several things to harm Japan's ability to fight Russia in the east while Germany was threatening in the west. Japan was finally provoked into the attack on the USA and it was common knowledge that once we entered the war Hitler would declare war on us, thus overcoming the antiwar crowd into allowing us to put pressure on Japan and Germany, much to Stalin's advantage.
Coincidence? Conspiracy? Who cares? The facts support the fact that FDR was a socialist, for selfish reasons as well as from pressure from his wife and others, much in the Clinton mode, and RWR was a free enterprise anti-communist patriot.
Roosevelt might have been forgiven more if he had told Americans that his experiments were only temporary expedients designed to meet the unique challenges of his day, rather than an ideological plan for the future. Reagan may be eventually be seen in a similar light -- with conservatives celebrating his political philosophy and some liberals admitting that he did contribute to making the country stronger and more confident, even when disagreeing with his vision of America. In any event, even very ideological members of Congress often come to see the country and its political system as an ongoing enterprise that goes beyond party loyalties and programs.
BTW, this is a good quote and indicates where Reagan was coming from:
"It took us 70 years to get into this mess, and I am going to lead the first eight years of getting out of it. Then, maybe you younger members will have to pick up and do some heavy lifting on your own after that."
Reagan didn't intend to transform the country in 100 or 1000 days. He wanted to get something started that would take years and decades to fulfill, with much left for those who came after to do, and many opportunities to figure out the best course.
Perhaps that is too unkind. But this article is very flat in its perspective. It focuses on effectiveness, not the real historic significance of what the different men were effective in. Yes Reagan and FDR were both very effective political leaders. But there the similarity ends. And that Reagan in his comparative youth, admired FDR and even Hubert Humphrey, does not explain the Reagan who moved sharply right in the 1950s, and became Barry Goldwater's most eloquent supporter in 1964.
Newt ought to reread his own thoughts, here, and add some more badly needed perspective.
I recall many years ago seeing a film clip from the Democrats'1932 convention with FDR saying that he believed that no man in the U.S. should or needs to make more than $40,000 per year. Converting to 2004 dollars, he was essentially saying that there should be no new millionaires, although he obviously was one himself. I think that his Socialist leaning credentials were pretty clear.
In 1929 the Stock Market crashed, in the years to come leading to the worst point in American History. Most historians agree that FDR's New Deal not only did not help, it actually strengthened the Great Depression.
In 1987 the Stock Market crashed, in the years to come nothing happened, in fact so little became of this because Reagan had the wisdom to release $ and allow for massive borrowing that during the coverage of Reagan the 1987 crash NEVER comes up.
Reagan the heir to FRD Newt? FDR is taking Economy 101 from President Reagan in heaven as I type.
Whether or not he knew is a seperate debate. I am not entirely convinced that he knew of the attack but I think that he recognized the predicament that he had placed the Japanese in and what the Japanese could do to rectify the situation.
What threat did Hitler pose to the United States. We had been attacked by the Japanese, not the Germans.
I think it was best that we entered WWII, though.
Think of the alternatives...
Japanese domination of Asia
Nazi domination of Africa, Europe, the Middle East
if the Soviets beat the Nazis... Soviet domination of all of Europe, Mid East, and Africa.
We would have eventually seen landing craft on our shores and in the Americas.
The Japanese were bogged down in Manchuria and would eventually have had to withdraw.
"The Japanese were bogged down in Manchuria and would eventually have had to withdraw."
...not if we hadn't stopped selling them scrap metal, like you suggest we shouldn't have done.
...And for the rest of Asia? Africa? the Mid East?
They did not have the manpower to conquer Asia, they can HAVE Africa for all anyone cares (they deserved no better), and they would have been stopped by the time they got to the Middle East. They could not have kept an empire of that size with the military that they had.
The Nazis and Japanese conscripted everywhere they went. Any manpower shortage would be temporary, and we'd have been screwed with Japan and Germany having access to those kinds of resources.
The Nazis wanted the rubber and oil from the Mid East.
The Japanese wanted the rubber from Asia.
Contrary to what you said earlier, that the Nazis looked east... they looked WEST, took all of West Europe, and were looking to take the UK. Japan would have taken Hawaii, and could have jumped from there to Mexico... who they had earlier in the war tried to enlist as Allies. Imagine what they could have accomplished, promising the Mexicans they'd get back the Southwest US.
"they can HAVE Africa for all anyone cares (they deserved no better)"
is a disgusting statement in and of it's self.
Also, keep in mind that the physics was advancing to the point that atomic weapons would be viable. Without our entry into the war, we'd have had no impetus to develop one... and nowhere from which to launch planes to drop them even if we did. Nazi Germany would have, and would have developed V series rockets capable of reaching here in several years.
I agree though that we might have made a big mistake in that war, but it wasn't what you seem to think it is.
IMO, the US leadership should have let Patton roll all the way to Moscow, finishing off the nearly defeated USSR. Instead, we let them consolidate their grip and recover. Imagine a late 20th century with a friendly Russia!
promising the Mexicans they'd get back the Southwest US.
All they would have had to do for that one is elect Bush.
What incentive did the Japanese or the Nazis have to attack the United States? The only reason the Japanese attacked was because we stood in the way of their oil and scrap iron supply.
The physics was advancing but the Germans were quite a ways off from developing nuclear weapons. The British attack on Peenemunde set the Germans back enormously, wiping out the facility and killing most of their scientists. The Germans could barely get the V-1 to hit anything. The V-2 was a bit more effective but both were still crude.
Had we simply fought the Japanese and let the Nazis and communists kill each other off, the world would have been a better place.